Inkling Quotes

Quotes from George MacDonald: Preacher, Fantasy Writer and C.S. Lewis Influence

Phantastes, by George MacDonald, is the book that "baptised the imagination" of C.S. Lewis and set him on the road back to Christianity.

George Macdonald Quote Page

It was now dark. We were the under half of the world. The sun was scorching and glowing on the other side, leaving us to night and frost. But the night and the frost wake the sunshine of a higher world in our hearts; and who cares for winter weather at Christmas? - I believe in the proximate correctness of the date of our Saviour's birth. I believe he always comes in winter. And then let Winter reign without: Love is king within; and Love is lord of the Winter.

     Adela Cathcart, Book I, Chapter 1

'I should be ill,' she continued, 'if I did not live on the borders of the fairies' country, and now and then eat of their food. And I see by your eyes that you are not quite free of the same need; though, from your education and the activity of your mind, you have felt it less than I.'

     Phantastes Chapter 3

'I firmly believe people have hitherto been a great deal too much taken up about doctrine and far too little about practice. The word doctrine, as used in the Bible, means teaching of duty, not theory. I preached a sermon about this. We are far too anxious to be definite and to have finished, well-polished, sharp-edged systems - forgetting that the more perfect a theory about the infinite, the surer it is to be wrong, the more impossible it is to be right.'

     From a letter to his father, quoted in George MacDonald and His Wife by Greville MacDonald

'The universe would be to me no more than a pasteboard scene, all surface and no deepness, on the stage, if I did not hope in God. I will not say believe, for that is a big word, and it means so much more than my low beginnings of confidence. But a little faith may wake a great big hope, and I look for great things from him whose perfection breathed me out that I might be a perfect thing one day. The more we trust, the more reasonable we find it to trust.'

     From a letter to Lady Mount-Temple, 1888

A beast does not know that he is a beast, and the nearer a man gets to being a beast, the less he knows it.

'God is so beautiful, and so patient, and so loving, and so generous that he is the heart and soul and rock of every love and every kindness and every gladness in the world. All the beauty in the world and in the hearts of men, all the painting all the poetry all the music, all the architecture comes out of his heart first. He is so loveable that no heart can know how loveable he is - can know only in part. When the best loves God best, he does not love him nearly as he deserves, or as he will love him in time.'

From a letter to his daughter Mary when she was sixteen 

'I learned that it was not myself but only my shadow that I had lost. I learned that it is better . . . for a proud man to fall and be humbled than to hold up his head in pride and fancied innocence. I learned that he that will be a hero, will barely be a man; that he that will be nothing but a doer of his work, is sure of his manhood.'

Phantastes Chapter 22


Afflictions are but the shadows of God's wings.

Age is not all decay; it is the ripening, the swelling, of the fresh life within, that withers and bursts the husk.

Anything large enough for a wish to light upon, is large enough to hang a prayer upon.

Attitudes are more important than facts.

Few delights can equal the presence of one whom we trust utterly.

Forgiveness is the giving, and so the receiving, of life.

Friends, if we be honest with ourselves, we shall be honest with each other.

How strange this fear of death is! We are never frightened at a sunset.

I find that doing of the will of God leaves me no time for disputing about His plans.

If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give.

It is not in the nature of politics that the best men should be elected. The best men do not want to govern their fellowmen.

It is not the cares of today, but the cares of tomorrow, that weigh a man down.

It is our best work that God wants, not the dregs of our exhaustion. I think he must prefer quality to quantity.

It matters little where a man may be at this moment; the point is whether he is growing.

Love is the opener as well as closer of eyes.

Man finds it hard to get what he wants, because he does not want the best; God finds it hard to give, because He would give the best, and man will not take it.

Many a thief is a better man than many a clergyman, and miles nearer to the gate of the kingdom.

The best preparation for the future is the present well seen to, and the last duty done.

The first thing a kindness deserves is acceptance, the second, transmission.

The more I work with the body, keeping my assumptions in a temporary state of reservation, the more I appreciate and sympathize with a given disease. The body no longer appears as a sick or irrational demon, but as a process with its own inner logic and wisdom.

The principal part of faith is patience.

The principle part of faith is patience.

There are thousands willing to do great things for one willing to do a small thing.

To be trusted is a greater complement than to be loved.

To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.

To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.

To have what we want is riches; but to be able to do without is power.

To keep a lamp burning we have to keep putting oil in it.

We die daily. Happy those who daily come to life as well.

When we are out of sympathy with the young, then I think our work in this world is over.

Where there is no choice, we do well to make no difficulty.

You can't live on amusement. It is the froth on water - an inch deep and then the mud.